Thursday, October 30, 2008

Of Apes and Women

Here's another discovery that gives very strong evidence for evolution:

Dr. Penny Patterson took an ape at around toddler age and taught her sign language. Koko is the name of this intriguing ape.

Dr. Patterson started out wanting to accomplish her doctorate degree by researching how well apes could learn sign language.

Here findings revel that apes already have a gesturing system of their own. Koko learned sign language just like an infant learns to talk.

It just sort of happens.

But, this isn't just learned responses from an animal. Not the lab rat stuff like pressing the bar 10 times to get a sugar cube. Or, flip the switch 8 times and get a treat.

Koko communicates.

She demonstrates that she understands English. Ask her questions and make requests and she'll do them.

Okay, so a trained dog can do that.

But, walk into the room and give Koko the bad news that her darling pet kitten died and Koko responds through sign language by signing the words "sad" and "cry". Her facial expressions shows she's hurt and understands. Then she groans in bereavement; she comprehends that her pet is gone at that very moment.

She comprehended this because Dr. Patterson signed this information to her and told her with words. Koko didn't have to "figure out" her kitten was dead after missing her pet for weeks or months. She understood the gravity of the event right then when she was told.

Koko really understood.

What does that say about man's kinship to the apes?

And Koko isn't the exception. Other apes have shared past memories through sign language!!!

Remember, apes already have a natural inclination to gesturing.

They simply don't talk vocally because they don't have the same type of vocal cords as humans. The human vocal cord is unique.

But, they can talk with their hands and their eyes and their hearts.
Like we humans often do, too.

Dr. Patterson's work is amazing.

Read more about Dr. Penny Patterson and Koko if you don't already know about them.

And even better, check out Nature: Koko -- part of the PBS Nature series.

See for yourself. These examples are not embellished! Check it out!

Also, at the time this blog was posted, Netflix has this documentary as part of their instant viewing selections. So if you're a Netflix member already, just watch it on your PC or on your TV through your Roku device.

(gotta love Netflix . . . and that nifty little Roku, too!)
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